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J Pediatr (Rio J). 2004 Jan-Feb;80(1):49-54.

[Eating disorders in school children].

[Article in Portuguese]

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Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais (UFMG), Belo Horizonte, MG, Brazil.



To determine the prevalence of possible eating disorders and inappropriate eating behaviors in school children from six municipalities in the state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.


Cross-sectional study. The Bulimic Investigatory Test of Edinburgh (BITE), Eating Attitude Test (EAT), and Body Image Test were applied to 1,807 public school students with age ranging from 7 to 19 years.


According to the EAT, 241 students (13.3%), mostly females, had inappropriate eating behaviors. Nineteen students (1.1%) had a BITE score indicating a possible diagnosis of bulimia nervosa. We found that 1,059 students (59%) were unhappy with their body image; 731 students (40%) were on a diet; and 1,014 (56%) exercised to loose weight. In addition, 218 students (12%) presented binge-eating and 175 students (10%) used purgative methods to control weight.


We observed a high prevalence of possible eating disorders and inappropriate eating behaviors in the study population, especially among female adolescents. These results are similar to those reported for developed countries. The present findings are relevant for the clinical care of children and adolescents and can serve as the basis for future works aimed at increasing our understanding of the risk factors for these illnesses.

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